• This photograph shows the Erie Canal at Palmyra, New York, in 2008. As canal traffic declined, so did revenue for repairs and maintenance, making the Canal a less than attractive investment for commercial businesses to transport their goods. Courtesy of Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Erie Canal, Palmyra, New York
    • Date
    • 2008-05
    • Creator
    • Mays, Kenneth R
    • Description
    • The original Erie Canal was completed in 1825. This image shows the stone supports of an aquaduct where the Erie Canal once crossed a river. It is located in Pal-Mac Aqueduct Park, about a mile west of downtown Palmyra. Over the years, the Erie Canal... more
      The original Erie Canal was completed in 1825. This image shows the stone supports of an aquaduct where the Erie Canal once crossed a river. It is located in Pal-Mac Aqueduct Park, about a mile west of downtown Palmyra. Over the years, the Erie Canal was enlarged several times to accommodate more traffic and larger boats. A new canal, the New York State Barge Canal, was begun in 1905 and completed in 1918.The canal today is primarily used for recreational purposes. Electronic reproduction. REL C 341. LDS ChurchHistory; Geography; United States; New York; Erie Canal (N.Y.). less
    • Rights
    • C2002 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved. The information available on this site, including any text, computer codes, data, artwork, video, audio, images or graphics (collectively, the "Material") may be protected by copyright and other in... more
      C2002 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved. The information available on this site, including any text, computer codes, data, artwork, video, audio, images or graphics (collectively, the "Material") may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Also, parties other than Brigham Young University ("BYU") may own copyright in portions of the Material and the reproduction of some Materials may be restricted by privacy and/or publicity rights. We encourage use of this Material only for non-profit and educational purposes, such as personal research, teaching and private study. For these limited purposes, Material from this web site may be displayed and printed, and all copies must include any copyright notice originally included with the Material. Except as provided above, or any use beyond what is allowed by fair use (Title 17, Section 107 U.S.C.), you may not reproduce, republish, post, transmit or distribute any Material from this web site in any physical or digital form without the permission of BYU and any other copyright owner of the Material. If you wish to publish or reproduce any Material for any other purposes, including commercial purposes, you must obtain prior written permission. Requests for permission should be addressed to the Copyright Licensing Office, 3830 HBLL, BYU, Provo, UT 84602. Through the descriptive records in the "Religious Education" digital collection, the contributing institutions/individuals are providing information from their records regarding authors, publishers, or other information associated with each item digitized. This information is provided as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item. The contributing institutions/individuals appreciate hearing from anyone who may have additional information about any of the items in the collection.; Licensed from Kenneth R. Mays December 12, 2002; Public less
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library

  • In this photograph, abandoned canal boats deteriorate in the "boat graveyard" at Eastern Widewaters, near Rochester. Courtesy of Rochester Museum & Science Center via Rochester Regional Library Council and Empire State Digital Network.

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    Boat graveyard, Eastern Wide Waters - 2
    • Creator
    • Stone, Albert R.
    • Description
    • Vessels on the Canal, 1910-1925By the 20th century commercial barges had replaced passenger packet boats on the canal. The Erie Canal boat graveyard at Eastern Widewaters.negative, glass plateoverall: 5 x 7 in.
    • Rights
    • Http://collections.rmsc.org/LibCat/rights.html.
    • Partner
    • Empire State Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Rochester Museum & Science Center
      Rochester Regional Library Council

  • The Erie Canal was a central focus of the 1925 Old Home Week celebrations in Lockport, New York, a city born of the Canal. This program cover illustrated the event's theme. Courtesy of Niagara County Historical Society via Western New York Library Resources Council and Empire State Digital Network.

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    Old Home Week Program
    • Date
    • 1925
    • Description
    • Old Home Week: Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Erie Canal Lockport, N.Y. July 19th to 25th, 1925. Souvenir history booklet, published under the direction of Old Home Week Committee, Inc. Cover image illustration printed in blue, orange, ... more
      Old Home Week: Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Erie Canal Lockport, N.Y. July 19th to 25th, 1925. Souvenir history booklet, published under the direction of Old Home Week Committee, Inc. Cover image illustration printed in blue, orange, brown, and black. Brown double booklet with 32 off white pages, printed by Corson Manufacturing Company. Foreword, historic background, the Coming of the Erie Canal, future outlook, etc. including photographs and illustrations of Lockport. less
    • Rights
    • This digital image may be used for educational uses, as long as it is not altered in any way. Please cite as: Niagara County Historical Society.
    • Partner
    • Empire State Digital Network
    • Contributing Institution
    • Niagara County Historical Society
      Western New York Library Resources Council

By the mid-twentieth century, several factors began to change the role and perception of the Canal. Shipping quickly dropped off when the new St. Lawrence Seaway, completed in 1959, allowed ocean-going vessels to travel straight to the Great Lakes. While the Erie Canal continued to carry some bulk cargos on barges, pleasure crafts began to outnumber commercial vessels. Both the Erie Canal and the national railroad system also began to face stiff competition from the postwar federal interstate highway construction program in the 1950s. Just as the Erie Canal had been built in response to national defense needs recognized in the War of 1812, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 intended to address the logistical weaknesses of the national defense acknowledged during World War II. This eventually gave truck transportation the edge over both rail and canal alternatives.

 As the 1972 Clean Water Act gained traction, recreational uses of the Canal increased exponentially and it became a magnet for tourists. With the creation of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the history of the Canal became an additional and eventually primary attraction.